By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA — Tropical storm Gabrielle formed in the Caribbean south of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and is expected to bring heavy rain over portions of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 11:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, the center of Tropical Storm Gabrielle was located about 70 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and about 160 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Gabrielle was moving toward the northwest near 8 mph and this motion is expected to continue through Thursday night. A turn toward the north-northwest is expected on Friday with a slight decrease in forward speed. On the forecast track, the centre should pass near or just west of Puerto Rico on Wednesday night and early Thursday, pass near or just east of the Dominican Republic on Thursday and Thursday evening, and move east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph, with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the centre.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Santo Domingo to Cabo Engano.
Interests in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands should monitor the progress of this system.
Gabrielle is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches over portions of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic, with isolated maximum amounts of up to 10 inches possible in areas of mountainous terrain. These heavier amounts could result in dangerous flash floods and mud slides over mountainous terrain.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the coast of Puerto Rico overnight and reach the warning area in the Dominican Republic by midday Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area by early Thursday.